Tsitsipas in dreamland after reaching Australian Open final. Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov in a spirited semifinal match at Melbourne Park on Friday, reaching the championship match on his fourth attempt.
Under a scorching Rod Laver Arena heat, the Greek third seed prevailed 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 to advance to the final, where he will face either nine-time winner Novak Djokovic or American Tommy Paul.
Since 2011’s 23-year-old Djokovic, he is the youngest man to reach the final at the age of 24.
He or the Serbian great will take the top spot in the world if they both capture the trophy.
When he was younger, Tsitsipas, who is currently 10-0 for the year and in position to win his first Grand Slam trophy, said, “I fantasized to maybe one day get to play in this court against the top players in the world.”
“Therefore, I’m pleased with the struggle I started today. I consider myself really fortunate to be able to play tennis at this level. I’ve been trying to promote Greek tennis for a long time.
I’m very excited to be in the final, so let’s see what happens, he continued.
Tsitsipas, who made his debut at the 2019 tournament as a 20-year-old when he ousted reigning champion Roger Federer in the last round, has flourished in Melbourne throughout his career.
In order to demonstrate the consistency that has made him a constant in the world’s top 10 for over four years, he went on to reach the semifinals that year and again in 2021 and 2022, falling one match short on each occasion.
A Grand Slam title, however, continues to elude him. His greatest accomplishment to date is a runner-up finish at Roland Garros in 2021, when he lost to Djokovic in five sets despite holding a 2-0 lead.
Tsitsipas entered the match against Khachanov full of self-assurance, bolstered by the fact that he had a 5-0 advantage against the Russian.
In game four, after Khachanov committed a baseline error, he put pressure on early and opened with a serve to love. This earned him a break.
The advantage didn’t last, though, as the 18th seed quickly responded to tie the game when Tsitsipas lost a forehand.
However, the Greek star was unflappable on the forehand and forced another break for a 5-3 lead before Khachanov once more stormed back.
In the tiebreaker, Tsitsipas soon assumed control.
The second set started with serve until Tsitsipas got another two following a 22-shot rally at 4-4, and this time he didn’t err. Khachanov had earlier fended off three break opportunities.
The third seed increased his push to get a break for 2-1 in the third set, then consolidated, with the bit between his teeth.
Khachanov appeared to be in trouble but, in a dramatic turn of events, came back when Tsitsipas, who was two points away from winning, missed an overhead volley as he served the match.
It forced the third set into a fourth tiebreak, which the Russian prevailed after the Greek had earned two match chances on serve but couldn’t capitalise on them.
Tsitsipas regained his composure and worked hard to break again for a 2-0 lead, and this time there was no comeback. His credo in Melbourne has been to focus on the positives rather than the problems.